Adolf Hitler the Artist
|I can see them there now, the
millions of people unified in cheering as Adolf Hitler rides through on
a motorcade. He is giving the Nazi salute, and the masses respond with
that fervent chant, "Heil Hitler!, Heil Hitler!..." He is staring into
the horizon, visualising in his mind's eye the horizons of his own story
that he is about to explore. In that moment they are giving their lives
-- willingly and without resistance -- surrendering their own insignificant
melodramas of financial and marital worries, surrendering it all to be
part of his story, his saga.
The human soul is a restless entity; it cannot survive without embroiling itself in a quest for achievement, be that in obtaining the most sought after mate, more money or the latest technological device. Every now and again in history, the sum of all these little tensions boil over and amalgamate into an explosion of action -- world wars, crusades, conquests. This is because the human being is a very imaginative creature; it needs to visualise the deeper reaches of its existence. And since the concept of 'the story' is endemic to those deeper reaches, the human being seeks to become part of this story, to fulfill the deepseated human need for drama.
It was such a time that Adolf Hitler lived in, and the people of the age chose to make themselves part of his story, bit-players as Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Bormann, Greim, Speer and all the others took the centre stage. The ordinary person on the street shouting "Heil Hitler" is only an extra, but he has a chance to partake in events that are above his station, a chance to fulfill the ultimate drama-lust of the human soul. He will probably die in battle, and be buried in an unmarked grave. But he is going to die one day anyway, and be buried in a marked grave that bears a worthless name. True love exists only the total absence of all drama and tension (as in the Garden of Eden) or the most dramatic realisation of the human saga, the most incredible tale of spilled blood and maimed spirit. Anything in between is tainted, impure love, the product of impure emotions -- because it is not absolute, it is not everything that it could be in every instant.
Most people desire to be part of something greater than themselves. That's why the churches and mosques are full. By comparison to Adolf Hitler, the church is positively impotent. Jesus, if he really lived, may have had a similar strength of vision, but the power of his story has been diluted over oceans of time until only the need for subservience remains. There is no payback on that subservience, other than a shallow promise of an afterlife. Hitler demanded equal subservience, but offered immediate payback -- a chance to star in his story, to become immortal by the power of his vision alone.
Hitler's story was a work of art -- so brilliantly composed was every dramatic development -- but it cost 50 million lives. The pay back was 50 million chapters in the story of his Kampf against the stagnation of humanity. Through the madness of one man, 50 million lives were animated and then terminated in a way that would never have been possible otherwise -- they experienced heights of triumph and depths of despair that could never have been reached without the vision of one man.
Neither Mein Kampf nor Anne
Frank's Diary could have been written without Hitler. The true maker
of the film Schindler's List is Adolf Hitler, and Hitler alone.
A thousand years from now, the individual human losses will have faded
into the mists of time -- in the same way that those who died under Attila,
under Khan or under Alexander have long been forgotten. But what will have
been ingrained forever into the human condition will be that amazing story.
It will be Hitler's story, but animated with 50 million words. It is as
such the ultimate sacrifice, sacrificing our lives with that which lies
within them, at the altar of the Story.
The world right now is despicable, so utterly horrendous that intelligent human beings cannot live in it without despairing at the daily ignorance of the lumpenproletariat whose banal imagination is in fact the standard by which the moral laws are set. But one day, perhaps a thousand years from now, a new race of people will rise up from the ashes, no longer obsessed with warring over human trivialities, revivified with the new task of exploring the stars and distant galaxies that hold secrets undreamed of. And there will then come a time when a great man -- or a group of great men -- will need to draw on the weight of human history, the glory of human history to fight a battle that may threaten existence itself, against an enemy undreamed of. He will then look back and use Hitler as a template, as a guide to inspire him in his own story, by the sheer weight of Hitler's destiny. The dimension of human suffering will then no longer be important, because humans will have evolved beyond the point of inflicting suffering upon each other. All that will remain will be that story. Stories do not remember details or make moral commentary, that is added in by the contemporary teller. We all remember the bravery of Achilles, his heroic battle with Hector, whom he dragged around the walls of Troy. The brilliance of Odysseus in devising the Wooden Horse that sacked the city. What history does not record well is the fact that if such events ever occurred at all, the Greeks were there to steal back a woman who had left -- with the motive of love -- of her own free will.
The world is so utterly repugnant, rather than sit here and wallow in our banality, living out our lives vicariously through images on television screens, how can we reproach Hitler for leaving subsequent generations with a true saga of blood, tears and fire? We are nothing anyway, absolutely nothing, so at least we can busy ourselves with leaving a tale of human saga for that race which may one day rise from our ashes. Stories being stories, our mistaken and idiotic morals will not be embodied within them, only the fundamental theme of human struggle against strife, of human bravery and cowardice, of sadism and kindness, of deepest hatred and strongest love, those primal emotions that empower the human soul and form the backbone of all our stories. If nothing else, it will serve to inspire that enlightened human being who shall arise one day from our impotent world. Do not doubt it, after all the trivialities of this century and the next have been forgotten, Hitler's story will remain and will reach those people who arise from our ashes. His prediction of a Thousand Year Reich will almost certainly come true.
We cannot even work actively to reach that magical place I have prophesied, since the human condition is not on a par with the standard of modern technology. We could send a space shuttle to Mars, but then have to contend with the fact that the Vatican has a policy plan in place as regards converting an alien race to Christianity!
All we can do is leave a story by which this chaotic megalomaniacal era of human history may be remembered and used in a positive way. As their war effort crumbled Hitler and Goebbels were well aware that for their madness to have meaning in a thousand years from now, specific action had to be taken. They understood the power of the story, and hence the determination of Hitler to die defiantly in Berlin, true to his word that he would never abandon the capital of his sacred Reich. After their apocalyptic visions, anything but the most dramatic of finales, anything but total annihilation, would be an anticlimax and would ruin the myth that was in the making. Aware of this, they delivered (in their own words) "the real 'Twilight of the Gods' scene". Hitler had at last realised that the power of his vision lay not the in the specifics of his politics (which many had espoused before him) but rather in the sweeping scale of the saga he had set into motion. He realised that the ultimate significance of all those lives which had been lost lay in his hands and, as always, he delivered on the Gotterdammerung he had promised, his burning body -- always the spiritual centre and totem of Nazism -- the logical and symbolical conclusion to the Revolution of Destruction.
In this nihilistic age, when we all reaching out for something to hold onto and find only transient and aesthetic things, it was only a matter of time before someone wrote a modern saga on the scale of Alexander the Great or Jesus Christ. Had Hitler not done what he did when he did, this saga would have been played out in the prime of the nuclear power age (for the nuclear age was advancing independently of European tensions). Such events may have destroyed humanity once and for all, wiping us from the face of the Earth. In doing what he did when he did it, Hitler have may laid the Zeitgeist to rest once and for all, having written the Saga of Sagas once and for all, so that it need not be retold in the centuries to come, in which time we can safely look towards that race of people who must rise like the phoenix from the ashes and advance the human condition beyond recognition. The conclusion is inescapable: In a vision of megalomanic madness, without realising it, Adolf Hitler gave his life to save us all.
My allusions to space travel and cosmic conquest in the above tract may at first seem utterly ludicrous, and I should add that I entertain them only as an intellectual curiosity rather than a concrete belief. Nevertheless, I am willing to defend them. There have been endless links drawn between the Nazi and Viking mythologies. The Viking tradition revolved around conquest and exploration of the unknown territories that surrounded their lands. In the 20th century, the globe is well charted, and space is the final (and obvious) frontier. If the idea of dynamic exploration is pivotal to the Viking tradition, so then must it be to that latter-day breed of Vikings, the Nazis. Is it then so ridiculous to suggest that Hitler will one day become the totem around which human beings base their more adventurous ventures into the unknown? One would do well to remember that the most ambitious space operation yet admitted by mankind had its ship named "Viking" (built, as it happens, using technology taken from Hitler's V2 rockets). Who is to say that Hitler will not in a thousand years time attain the same status afforded to Turgeis, Hastein, Eirik the Red, Leif Eiriksson and the other fabulous raiders who grace Viking lore.
The astute will notice that in my tract I almost implied that Hitler's myth would be of most use some day in the future in fighting off a hostile alien race. I am of course, not literally implying that we should put some Swastikas on the USS Enterprise for luck, but instead using an extreme example to highlight the essence of Hitler's legacy. More than anything, Hitler's myth centres on abstract concepts of will to power, fanatical determination, mystical will to power, and struggle in the face of impossible odds. All qualities he shared with the Vikings, and all abstract concepts necessary for successfully charting the unchartable. But Hitler's real problem lay in the fact that the 20th century had nothing that needed charting, no exploring to be done. I have read the entire Mein Kampf, read a great deal of his other political manifestos, but despite frantic attempts, beyond petty historical recriminations and counter-claims he was not once able to justify why precisely "living space in the East" was so essential, why he needed to go war with Aryans to bring the Aryan race to power. Those who don't believe me, should consider his final political testament given at 4am on April 29th 1945 when, shortly before his death, he still had no working rationale for setting the whole war into motion in the first place:
It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted the war in 1939 ... I have further never wished that after the first fatal world war a second against England, or even against America, should break out ... Three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war I again proposed to the British ambassador in Berlin a solution to the German-Polish problem -- similar to that in the case of the Saar district, under international control. This offer also cannot be denied. It was only rejected because the leading circles in English politics wanted the war, partly on account of the business hoped for and partly under influence of propaganda organized by International Jewry.However, a little later in the same testament, the real underlying reason for the war:
After six years of war, which in spite of all setbacks, will go down one day in history as the most glorious and valiant demonstration of a nation's life purpose, I cannot forsake the city which is the capital of this Reich.Though he may struggle with the particulars, here he embodies the underlying ethos of his movement on a level that needed no logical explanation, no superfluous details.
It is precisely when placed in the wider context of the human thirst for conquest and exploration that Hitler's actions take on significance. The Vikings did not need to morally justify their raids, they were simply carrying out that primordial and innate human necessity -- to divide and conquer, to explore and chart that horizon which stands uncharted, to go where none have gone before. This is also the underlying ethos that drove Hitler, his belief in Weltmacht oder Niedergang, in conquest and glory, to ride into oblivion with the Valkyries at his side. For a man who claimed to be without morals, one is forced to wonder whether he really was. If he had really not needed any moral framework, one wonders whether so many scapegoats would have died in the concentration camps to try and justify that which really needed no justification at all, that innate call to greatness -- to go where none have gone before -- that is the essence of humanity anyway.
Tragically for Hitler, there was nothing to explore in the 20th century, no frontiers to chart, no enemies that really needed to be defeated. Despite being such a tumultuous age, in reality Hitler was the first of his kind (Attila, Alexander and Alaric being his forerunners) who had nowhere to go. Little wonder then, that the Angel of Destruction, like a shark trapped in a glass bowl, rejoiced as the bombs fell around him in 1945, to herald the total destruction of everything, as that frustrated energy became increasingly introverted.
Because of this, Hitler did not leave the concrete gains or realistic policies of other figures of the 20th century. None of the policies of Nazism have been able to survive without him. Nazism in the hands of Goering or Himmler would never have left Munich; the whole movement centred on the mythological colossus that he became. Instead of concrete achievements, he left abstract concepts, ideals of conquest and glory. The saying goes that the 'Devil is in the detail'. In fact, only technocrats care about detail. The Devil -- and all other mythological beings -- rides far above the cumbersome reality of detail, soaring above us in that magical and artistic realm where the driving force for all human action has its origin.
The 20th century was one not of an exploration of the frontiers, but rather an exploration of the human being. With no more lands to discover, human beings made the first tentative attempts in a long time at bettering themselves. Trapped in this age of necessary transition, Hitler, the modern Viking, found no uncharted worlds to conquer, no horizons to march into.
Perhaps in a thousand years time, the period of transition will be complete, and humanity will embark on the task of charting the cosmic frontiers as yet undreamed of. Tempered by those necessary advances in our ethical human condition that turn conquest into the more noble aim of exploration, the myth of Hitler will again revive and will be the template which the great men of the future will use -- albeit more responsibly -- to further the cause of humanity.
Rainer P. was co-webmaster of burzum.com, unfortunately now defunct but for a time the best music site on the Net. The two texts above, conflated into one, were posted on the old Burzum listserv. Let's just call the preceding imaginative treatment an alternative Hitler mythology, no more implausible than the mainstream mythology of Hitler as secular Satan. For an important (though more mundane) corrective, read Mark Weber's Enduring Allure of Hitlerism.